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Cecile Corral

Glenoit wants to bring back quality

AT THE NEW YORK MARKET — Glenoit Corp. is branching out of its traditional offerings of domestic kitchen and accent rugs to add several new product categories — imported bath rugs, indoor/outdoor accent and area rugs and floor cloths — and through them, hit higher price points to service specialty and department stores and catalogs.

Barry Leonard, president and CEO of Glenoit Universal, the parent company of Glenoit Corp. and its sister company Ex-Cell Home Fashions, said the company is looking to continue importing, particularly from China and India, to help it expand its floor covering offerings, step up quality and enter new retail channels.

"We're expanding our product offerings and looking to get into new categories through sourcing," Leonard said.

While the company continues to produce its polypropylene and nylon kitchen rugs and slices, doormats, and some accent rugs at its Tarboro, N.C. manufacturing facility, it also operates offices in India and in Hong Kong, and expects to open another office in China soon. Glenoit Universal has, for the past nine years, owned and operated a facility in China to produce some products for its Ex-Cell division.

Aiding Glenoit Corp. in its sourcing efforts is Mark Shakley, who is acting as a consultant to the company. Shakley was formerly the co-owner of high-end textiles company Newmark Mill, which was sold to Mohawk Industries in the late 1990s.

The new bath rugs, which are all imported from China and India, come in various constructions, including cotton loop, cotton reversible and cotton chenille. Shakley said the aim was to offer bath rugs that employ "better yarns, like combed, ring-spun — ones that take color better and have a better hand to them."

"We're looking to bring quality back to bath rugs," he continued. "There has been an absence of quality in the bath rug category because most of it is imported and very price driven. The product then diminishes because, to get to the right price, they take from the product. But everything we're doing this market has a much better quality to it."

Glenoit Corp.'s bath rugs are poised for specialty and department stores and catalogs and carry a $15 to $20 price tag, "A totally new price point for Glenoit (Corp.)," Leonard said.

Drawing from a practice that dates back to the 1400s, when people took their worn heavy-duty canvas sails from their boats and hand-painted them to use as floor coverings, Glenoit Corp. is introducing a small collection of floor cloths. Available in three designs, the floor cloths are made of 100 percent cotton canvas, come in a single size — 30-by-44 — and are set to retail for $19.99.

Finally, a collection from India of jute sisal rugs titled "Passages" is the company's entrance into the indoor/outdoor product category. These rugs come in several styles, including cotton chenille blends and designs that include woven borders. Sizes range from small scatters to 5-by-8 area rugs, the latter of which is set to retail for $80.

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